I propose to take Questions Nos. 201 to 204, inclusive, together.
On 24 April last, the serious nature of the conditions in the mortuary at University Hospital Waterford (UHW) were first brought to my Department’s attention. On 2 May 2019, the Department of Justice forwarded correspondence to the Department of Health that it had received from the Office of the State Pathologist advising that State post-mortems would no longer be conducted in the mortuary at UHW.
Subsequently, the Department of Health engaged with the Office of the State Pathologist which advised that, pending the building of a new mortuary at UHW, State post-mortem examinations from the Waterford region, would be performed at alternative venues, including Dublin, Cork and Tullamore. On 8 May, the Office of the State Pathologist formally advised the South South West Hospital Group that future State post-mortems would be performed at alternative venues, pending the building of a new mortuary at UHW.
In relation to the Deputy’s specific queries with respect to the figures in the graph provided in the response to Parliamentary Question No. 232 of 14 May 2019, as these are operational issues, I have asked the HSE to respond to you directly. It is a matter for both local Consultants and hospital management to determine whether there have been any adverse impacts on the delivery of mortuary services and to respond to those in accordance with the HSE Incident Management Framework.
It has been agreed that an independent review of the mortuary at University Hospital Waterford will be conducted to examine internal processes and pathways and management and governance arrangements to ensure that they are consistent with contemporary practice. A review team and terms of reference have been agreed. The HSE has advised that the Review Team is working towards the completion of a Final Report in September.